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Buick Rendezvous AWD (2001)

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 27,452
     Price As Tested                                    $ 33,672
     Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 3.4 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 204 cid/3350 cc
     Horsepower                                   185 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               210 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  112.2"/73.6"/186.5"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4059 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P215/70R16 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/24/20
     0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
     Total passenger volume                          53.1 cu.ft.
     Maximum towing capacity                         3500 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

The 2002 Buick Rendezvous represents the company's first foray into the sport utility market. Built in Mexico, the Rendezvous is available as the standard CX, or the luxury CXL, our test vehicle this week.

OUTSIDE - In an effort to lower Buick's current demographics, General Motors' most reserved division has taken a styling chance with Rendezvous. The tall roof, wide body and slightly wild appearance hides the fact that it's a very practical vehicle, and the only way it can be identified as a Buick is its grille, which is oval-shaped with the signature emblem in the center. The paint scheme divides the top and bottom into different, complementary colors, while Buick designers have done an admirable job of blending the stout body with the edgy, integrated body lines of today's SUVs. The huge liftgate opens wide and tall to swallow up to 108 cubic feet of cargo, but it's tough to close due to the high-pressure struts used to resist the liftgate's heavy weight. Multi-spoke alloy wheels are standard.

INSIDE - The two-tone styling theme continues inside, where the Rendezvous low step-in height makes it easy to climb aboard. The instruments, which are stylishly trimmed, have turquoise-colored slim needles that point to numerals with block-like fonts. The front seats are buckets, while the second row can be had in either a three-across bench or another pair of captain's chairs. An optional third-row seat gives the Rendezvous the ability to haul up to seven passengers. Controls and gauges are easy to use and all within reach, and there's plenty of storage in the center console, which also has a lockable cell-phone bin and space for a laptop computer. Standard CXL features include cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, outside mirrors and door locks, rear window defogger, tinted glass, remote keyless entry and an AM/FM/CD stereo.

ON THE ROAD - Power comes from GM's corporate 3.4-liter V6, which is transversely mounted under the short hood. It generates 185 horsepower and a respectable 210 lb-ft of torque. Maximum torque comes on at 4000 rpm, so its 3500-pound towing capacity should be enough to pull a small boat or camping trailer. It's a venerable design that can trace its roots far back in the GM family, and where others in its class produce 200-plus horsepower via sophisticated overhead cams and multiple valves per cylinder, Rendezvous uses a tried-and-true cast-iron engine design with two valves per cylinder. The cylinder heads, however, are aluminum. Mated to this is a four-speed automatic transmission, called the 4T65-E in GM-speak, which has proven itself to be reliable and very smooth-shifting. CXL models come equipped with an all-wheel drive system called Versatrak. It supplies hydraulic actuation to clutch packs that engage the rear wheels if slippage is detected. Otherwise, it operates in front-wheel drive mode.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Rendezvous is built using large pieces from GMs universal minivan parts bin. It's an all-steel unibody platform that features a rubber-isolated front subframe and cast aluminum rear crossmember. And while the front suspension is traditional stuff these days with struts, controls arms and coils springs, the rear layout is fully independent, with unequal-length A-arms that are unique in this segment. This setup rides on an elaborate casting intended to isolate the rear suspension from the body. The steering system is power rack-and-pinion, while braking is handled by four-wheel disc brakes with a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and front seat side-impact airbags, ABS, daytime running headlamps and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - CXL Versatility Package (CXL badging, six-way power front seats, third-row seating, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, overhead console, leather seating, theft alarm, rear parking aid, OnStar communications, universal transmitter, driver information cluster, rear seat audio controls, up-level stereo, luggage rack), $4,030; sunroof, $695; six-disc CD changer, $395; heated front seats, $225; memory seat/mirror settings, $225; upgraded tires, $75.